For us on the outside, the transfer portal seems like this ubiquitous Sorting Hat out of Harry Potter. You throw your name in, and it spits out where you should go.
However, here in Gainesville, one might believe the transfer portal has strings tied to each of its limbs. And behind the curtain is Dan Mullen, who continues to make one of the NCAA’s biggest tools his puppet.
As of late, Mullen and his staff have seemingly hand-picked two talents for their depleted offense that saw four senior receivers and one bell-cow running back graduate from the program.
Early in January, former Miami Hurricane, Lorenzo Lingard, joined Florida’s roster to help fill the void at running back.
Lingard, a five-star commit out of the 2018 recruiting class, was plagued with injuries (and an incompetent staff that lost to FIU and the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns) in his first two years of eligibility.
And while Lingard will likely have to sit out his first year in Gainesville, per subjective NCAA rules, no one has criticized Mullen’s preparedness.
The most recent addition to Mullen’s program is slated to be one of the most vital. Justin Shorter, who is leaving behind snow and scandal at Penn State, made his way to Gainesville in the last week.
Shorter, another former five-star from the 2018 class is too talented for the limited role coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions had him in. In two seasons, Shorter collected just 15 receptions for 157 yards.
And considering the recent hazing and sexual misconduct allegations at Penn State, the NCAA might grant Shorter immediate eligibility — much like the treatment ex-Gator Chris Steele received after the Jalon Jones incident last year.
But what is really interesting about the addition of Shorter is that, if history is any indication, he could find himself as one of the biggest components to Mullen’s offense. And Shorter knows that.
Look at Trevon Grimes. The former Ohio State wideout left the Buckeye State for the Sunshine State after amassing just three receptions for an average of 6.67 yards during his freshman year. And after two years with Mullen, Grimes’ number of receptions has grown to an average of 29.5 a season for an average of 14.44 yards per catch. Considering Grimes opted to forgo the 2020 NFL Draft and stick around for his senior year, that number could grow in the 2020-21 campaign.
While Mullen might be an offensive-minded guy, there hasn’t been a shortage of defensive additions from the transfer portal to Gainesville.
Though Jonathan Greenard and Adam Shuler have both played their last games in the orange and blue, transfers and recruits alike see the seasons that they had and can’t help but picture themselves in their shoes.
While Shuler was an underrated pickup from the transfer portal, Greenard is a name that no one in Gainesville, or even the SEC, will be forgetting anytime soon.
Greenard spent three years at Louisville before making the move to Gainesville. And his senior-year-destination didn’t come as a huge surprise considering Florida’s defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, was the one who recruited him to Louisville in the first place.
In his lone season at UF, Greenard tallied 52 tackles, an SEC-best 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in the nine games he saw action.
And though he is draft-bound, the Gators’ defense is primed to slide someone right into his spot. And he comes by no other means than the transfer portal.
Brenton Cox, who came from Georgia, has been preparing with Florida since before last season even started. And while Cox has yet to see the field in Gainesville because he wasn’t granted immediate eligibility, the defensive end is sure to see playing time in 2020.
Undoubtedly, the transfer portal acts as a double-edged sword. You win some, you lose some. And Florida is no exception.
The loss of guys like Feleipe Franks, who left for Arkansas as a grad-transfer, hurt. But the addition of guys like Lingard, Shorter and Cox takes away the sting instantly.
And though some criticize Mullen for his inability to recruit five-stars out of high school (though he has one in this incoming class), there's no denying Mullen is the transfer portal puppeteer.
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